Brattle Theatre’s Trailer Smackdown: Registration OPEN!


After a brutal, seemingly endless winter, Boston is finally starting to see signs of summer. The swan boats are running, the reflecting pool has been filled, and college students have begun clogging up the post offices trying to mail the contents of their dorm rooms back to their parents’ houses. For a certain strata of cinematic weirdos, however, the beginning of summer means one thing: registration for the Brattle Theatre’s annual Trailer Smackdown.

For the unfamiliar, the concept of the Smackdown is simple. Each year, the brain trust at the Brattle cooks up an intentionally bland movie title. Entrants then have roughly two months to put together a trailer for a nonexistent film. There are a few guidelines—trailers can’t exceed two minutes, the title must be prominently displayed, and filmmakers must use at least one item each from a checklist of genres, characters, locations, and actions—but beyond that, the sky’s the limit. The trailers then screen for an audience vote at the Brattle’s Trailer Treats festival, alongside a reliably killer program of real-life trailers and an all-you-can-eat barbecue smorgasbord, with the winner taking home a hefty cash prize. The Smackdown has been running since the summer of 2007 (probably not coincidentally, the year Grindhouse came out), and has steadily grown into a highly anticipated, sold-out event.

Registration is currently underway for this year’s Smackdown, with participants aiming to sell audiences on the fictional film Surrender. The deadline for registration is June 25; submissions must be received by July 2. All will be building toward Trailer Treats on July 16 (with a private screening for entrants and their families on July 15), so if you’re a local filmmaker with a love of fine trailers, start firing up your cameras!

FULL DISCLOSURE/HUMBLEBRAG: My own cadre of guerilla filmmakers, Collective Fedora Films, has participated in the Smackdown nearly every year since its inception; we missed the boat in 2008, but we made two in 2011, so the math works out. After finally winning top honors last year (for our ’70s drive-in take on The Librarian), we will be sitting out this year for a long-deserved victory lap. That being said, you can believe me when I say that the Smackdown is some of the most fun you can have with a camera, and that the Trailer Treats festival is a highlight of the summer (my crew and I are planning on attending regardless). If you need inspiration, here is a playlist of all of our entries to date, with our winning entry from last year below—watch for your humble narrator as the greasy thug in a Superfly shirt.

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